David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In B. Velichkovsky & Duane M. Rumbaugh (eds.), Communicating Meaning: The Evolution and Development of Language. Hillsdale, Nj: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates 45 (1996)
Many studies of language, whether in philosophy, linguistics, or psychology, have focused on highly developed human languages. In their highly developed forms, such as are employed in scientific discourse, languages have a unique set of properties that have been the focus of much attention. For example, descriptive sentences in a language have the property of being "true" or "false," and words of a language have senses and referents. Sentences in a language are structured in accord with complex syntactic rules. Theorists focusing on language are naturally led to ask questions such as what constitutes the meanings of words and sentences and how are the principles of syntax encoded in the heads of language users. While there is an important function for inquiries into the highly developed forms of these cultural products (Abrahamsen, 1987), such a focus can be quite misleading when we want to explain how these products have arisen or the human capacity to use language. The problem is that focusing on its most developed forms makes linguistic ability seem to be a _sui generis_ phenomenon, not related to, and hence not explicable in terms of other cognitive capacities. Chomsky's (1980) postulation of a specific language module equipped with specialized resources needed to process language and possessed only by hum ans is not a surprising result
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William P. Bechtel (1993). The Path Beyond First-Order Connectionism. Mind and Language 8 (4):531-539.
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